what martial art to train in?

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antony jeffries

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I am 39 years old and want to take up martial arts again. There are so many now to choose from. Is there one that will be better suited to my age?

I am fit currently doing running and circuit training. I trained 20 years ago in Kung fu but don't want to do that again as I trained for 3 years and didn't seem to learn realistic street self defence.

Can anyone offer advice on what to look for, there are various Karate, JKD, Thai Boxing, Ju Jitsu clubs locally, which all seem good which offer different amounts of training nights.

Anyone's suggestions will be greatly received.
 

oldnewbie

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Wow, what a loaded question (wink)

You'll find several serious opinions for an answer to your question on this forum. There is a huge contingent of Kempo practistioners here and some others as well. I suggest you do a search on this board in several fo the art specfic areas.

I started at 39 as well, first time in MA. Now, after two years in Shotoakn, I'm enjoying it. It fits me for now.

For my answer, I would say visit each of the schools in your area and look at what they teach. If it appears to be realistic, from your perpsective, then go for it. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, if you leave confidant in your ability, you got your money's worth.

Good luck in your search.
 

7starmantis

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:D It is a little loaded, but what the heck.

My advice is to search for a system and school that fits you. If what your doing is hard, realistic, and increases your confidence then go for it, provided the teacher fits your learning style.
I know this is stereotypical, but I must make a statement....Don't write off a certain art just because you had a bad teacher, or school. That goes for TKD as well as Kung Fu.

Find a school that increases your skill and fulfills your needs, and stay there.

7sm
 

John Bishop

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What's available in your area? You need someplace close enough that you will continue to train, even when pressed for time. Also, lot of times the instructor is more important then the style. Let us know what type of schools are in your area, and I'm sure you can get some good opinions here.
 

Michael Billings

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I concur with everyone else. Check everywhere out and find the teacher & class that you feel most comfortable with.

Kung-Fu will be circular, sometimes with very low stances (my knees cannot do this any longer)

Japanese Karate - Shotokan, much more linear with great power and focus

Japanese Aikido/Jui-Jitsu/Judo - much more of a circular or throwing art.

Brazilian Ju-Jitsu - grappling on the ground.

Kenpo - Self Defense oriented, mixes circular with linear. Few high kicks, but lots of low kicks, sweeps, buckles, etc.

MMA means Mixed Martial Arts - Usually a combination of Bruce Lee's JKD (the biggest name that comes to mind is Danny Inosanto), and they combine the JKD with some other arts for a more ecclectic feel. Think Martial Arts cross-training (Thai Kickboxing, Silat or BJJ for on the ground, and some blade work - usually Kali/Escrima)

FMA means Fillipino Martial Arts - Usually a combination of Fillipino Arts, and almost always including stick and knife. There are literally hundreds, so you need to ask someone who does them about them.

I have done Judo, Shotokan, Taekwondo, and for the past 25 years Kenpo. There is no "bad" martial art, but there are bad schools (reference McDojo's), or bad instructors. Shop around, you are the customer.

-Michael
 

Michael Billings

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Originally posted by Michael Billings
I concur with everyone else. Check everywhere out and find the teacher & class that you feel most comfortable with.

Kung-Fu will be circular, sometimes with very low stances (my knees cannot do this any longer)

Japanese Karate - Shotokan, much more linear with great power and focus

Japanese Aikido/Jui-Jitsu/Judo - much more of a circular or throwing art.

Brazilian Ju-Jitsu - grappling on the ground.

Kenpo - Self Defense oriented, mixes circular with linear. Few high kicks, but lots of low kicks, sweeps, buckles, etc.

MMA means Mixed Martial Arts - Usually a combination of Bruce Lee's JKD (the biggest name that comes to mind is Danny Inosanto), and they combine the JKD with some other arts for a more ecclectic feel. Think Martial Arts cross-training (Thai Kickboxing, Silat or BJJ for on the ground, and some blade work - usually Kali/Escrima)

FMA means Fillipino Martial Arts - Usually a combination of Fillipino Arts, and almost always including stick and knife. There are literally hundreds, so you need to ask someone who does them about them.

I have done Judo, Shotokan, Taekwondo, and for the past 25 years Kenpo. There is no "bad" martial art, but there are bad schools (reference McDojo's), or bad instructors. Shop around, you are the customer.

-Michael

My apologies to the "Arts" I left out, there are so many and I just scratched the surface, by referencing those I am personally familiar with. No slight intended, and do not limit your search to just these.

Good Luck,
-Michael
 

KenpoTess

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Visit the studios, Many schools offer free trials, Watch a class or more, does it pique your interest? Something you feel you really want to participate in, is the Instructor easy going or regimented. There are many variables in the question you ask. I started training in Kenpo in my late 30's and have also studied FMA based arts, Samurai Jiu-jitsu and each one melds nicely with my Base Art of American Kenpo.
Are you physically up to some of the *harder* arts(TKD is a High Kicking Art, Reiterating what Mr. Billings said re: Shotokan, Forceful and powerful.. Etc) is a question you need to address, as Mr. Billings said, Kung fu (And like arts)stances can be very challenging to knees.

Ask around and if you find a system that you feel is right for you, Don't be afraid to ask questions on the board :)
Welcome to Martial Talk and Good Luck in your Adventure~!

Tess
 
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Black Bear

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"Begin with the end in mind..." What is your main objective for training, and what are your secondary objectives?
 

MJS

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It all depends on what YOU want to do. Seeing that you already have some background, you shouldnt have too much trouble fitting in with anything.

Definately doing your homework, seeing whats around you, what they have to offer, etc. is a good first step.

Good luck on your search

Mike
 

theletch1

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As everyone else has said....look around for something that feels right to you. Every individual is different and so are the reasons for studying MA. Quite often choosing a school comes down to the way a particular school makes you feel when you first walk in and talk to the instructor and his students. You can check out the "Horror stories" forum here to see what not to look for. As for the question being a loaded one, you're pretty safe here. Most of the folks on this board are genuinely interested in furthering interest in martial arts in general than any particular personal agenda. Martial arts is a very personal journey and while the folks here are a wealth of knowledge and are very willing to offer guidance, the ultimate decision is yours. I wish you the best of luck in your search and welcome to Martial Talk.
 
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Black Bear

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I noticed you mentioned realistic street defense. The Angry Laser Monkey is about to rant.

DISCLAIMER: Everyone who reads this will find it offensive. If you strongly disagree with anything here or are personally offended by them, just assume that I don't even believe what I'm writing and that that my comments are movitated entirely by spite. Forget they were said and go back to doing things the way you did them before. Because you're obviously right and what I say doesn't apply to your group or style AT ALL.

I wrote most of the following to a friend of mine who was shopping for a school in another city. Content has been modified to post here.

Different people look for different things in a studio. When I advise people who are looking for self-defense, I suggest looking for:
* no uniforms
* a friendly instructor
* no "line drills" (standing in rows, doing ten or a hundred punches or kicks in a row)
* a place that teaches arts from more than one culture
* they don't use that much foreign-language terminology
* no or little time spent on traditional weapons (sword, spear, staff, etc.)
* maybe some rubber or wooden practice knives
* people of several levels training together
* training several domains of skill: groundfighting, close-quarter, boxing/kickboxing/eyepoke range, and
ideally weapons (clubs and knives). Be aware that many schools, realizing that people want groundfighting,
are tacking on "groundfighting", "grappling" or "Brazilian jujitsu". The quality of their teaching may not be very good. If you ask who they learned from, I can make inquiries and let you know if it's any good. NOTE: This is not true for YOU, it was just in the original. I don't know who all the greats are everywhere in the world, but in my area, if a guy's lineage is 1-3 lines deep from a Gracie, Machado, Inoue, or Lion's Denner, etc, I could probably track down who his coaches were.
* some of the arts that are often preferred by progressive self-defense schools are boxing, Filipino
arts (arnis/escrima/kali), World War II-style combatives, muay Thai (Thai kickboxing), greco-roman wrestling, and brazilian jujitsu.
* the equipment that a place uses for safe training tells you a bit about them. Do they have punching bags? Real ones, full-size bags that hang from the
ceiling? Not stand-up ones. Not just one, probably three or more? If so, then they probably teach power
well. What's their floor? If you learn REAL FIGHTING on a spring wood floor (like a gym) you will likely have a lot of unnecessary bumps and bruises. If they train on a firm mat, that is a good sign. There are good folks who train on hardwood though. The most progressive schools will tell you to get wrestling shoes, a mouthguard, a cup. Maybe gloves of some kind, or maybe they'll provide them. Schools that say to buy white pyjamas and dipped-foam pads are usually not as reality/self-defense oriented. NOTE: I said usually.

If they have deep stances (bow stance, horse stance), that is a bad sign. If they "chamber" their punches
(pull the opposite fist to their hip) that is a bad sign. If they teach blocks, this is a bad thing. In real fighting, you cannot block (hitting the attack
away). You either shield (like a boxer), parry, or smother the attack.

These are just "indicators", and they're all just my personal biases. The most important thing about a school, to me, and I would say that this is what sets
truly good schools apart, is what Matt Thornton calls, "aliveness". The theory is that aliveness is a triangle composed of motion, timing, and energy:

http://www.straightblastgym.com/page.asp?section=qa&parent=Press
http://w3.blackbeltmag.com/featurecontent/view.asp?article=222
http://www.straightblastgym.com/philosophy12.html#alive

I don't know the schools in Calgary, but I only know of two that would satisfy what I'm looking for. If I went to Calgary I would probably go first to:

National (I think it's Brazilian Jujitsu)
Mike Miles' (Kickboxing)

They are alive. When you go in, they might seem like tough schools. They are pretty athletic. You'll get into real shape quickly. You may feel intimidated if the guys there are big and fit. But by training with them, you'll get better. If you go to a place where everyone's skinny and walks around in pyjamas, you may feel comfortable, but you
won't improve. I'm a small guy. I get beat up a bit every time I train. But we're safe and careful, I only had a couple sprains in the five years I've been there, and broke a tooth which was my own fault (no mouthguard). One time was because I hadn't bought wrestling shoes. Now I have them and my training's much better. If I get attacked by a big guy who doesn't train, I know for sure he's going to the hospital.

But if they are decent, they'll respect you and not try to hurt you or push you too fast. If a place trains hard with
good skills and good knowledge, but they don't treat you with respect and friendship, and have a good sense
of humour, why would you want to be there? So that's just as important as anything else.

In the end, you'll train at the school you want to train at. But I encourage you to look around, try more than two. Some very traditional, "un-alive" schools are fun and offer good health and stress-reduction benefits. I spent a year in aikido (not alive) and three years in Chinese kung fu (not alive) and enjoyed myself a lot. I couldn't fight at the end of it, but I was stronger and more flexible, learned some cool moves, breathed and moved smoother (before, I think I was quite dorky), and started feeling good about "getting physical". Of course, you could go to ballroom dancing--and you'd meet more girls. :) hahaha

The guy I wrote this for was planning to join a Korean-based school calling itself World Martial Art System (I came up with a blank on Google. Actually, World Martial ArtS System does get you www.dongs.com. Sure enough, they're Korean and have many satellite schools.) He came around to my way of seeing things and selected a school called Mike Miles' National Kickboxing, which has trained many world champion fighters.

Reminder: everything you just read is FALSE. Nobody believes it, not even the person who wrote it. Even if it were true, it does not apply to your school because YOURS is DIFFERENT. So don't tell me why I'm wrong. Just go back and do your line drills.
 

takadadojokeith

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Find something you like doing. Otherwise, working out just becomes another job and you won't stick with it.

Personally, I'm like submission wrestling and kickboxing, I'm at the gym 5 days a week, and I'm 33. The trick is to listen to your body and don't overdo it. When you're hurt, take a rest and heal. That way you can do whatever art holds your interest, no matter how rough it seems.

Oh yeah, make sure you like the people who teach you and train with you. Nothing makes you quit faster than personality clashes.
 

7starmantis

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I think it makes a good point. Some of what he said is purly personal prefrence and some of what he said is stright fact. this should show the importance of finding a system and school that fits both of those for you.

7sm
 
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markulous

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Like everyone said it all depends on you. But these are the arts I say to go with:

For Punching and Conditioning- American Boxing. Great way to build punching power, hand eye coordination, conditioning from sparring.

Traps and Locks - either Combat Hapkido, Wing Chun, or another type of Kung Fu. Combine it with your boxing and it works VERY well.

Kicking and more conditioning- Muay Thai. Awesome for your kicks and blocks with your shins.

Throwing- Aikido. This fills in the blanks for the other arts. Great for throws and grabs.

Now if you have an instructor that implements more than one of those then I would check out what he has to offer. If your looking to better improve your art and yourself go to an instructor that teaches spiritualism(Buddism, Confucism, Taoism, etc). A lot of people don't go into that and I think that is a big mistake. To me, that is a big part of martial arts.

And another thing. Grab a copy of The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. If there is something I am not sure of and it's in there, I always ask my Sifu about it. To me, it's almost a bible of martial arts.
 
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markulous

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Like everyone said it all depends on you. But these are the arts I say to go with:

For Punching and Conditioning- American Boxing. Great way to build punching power, hand eye coordination, conditioning from sparring.

Traps and Locks - either Combat Hapkido, Wing Chun, or another type of Kung Fu. Combine it with your boxing and it works VERY well.

Kicking and more conditioning- Muay Thai. Awesome for your kicks and blocks with your shins.

Throwing- Aikido. This fills in the blanks for the other arts. Great for throws and grabs.

Now if you have an instructor that implements more than one of those then I would check out what he has to offer. If your looking to better improve your art and yourself go to an instructor that teaches spiritualism(Buddism, Confucism, Taoism, etc). A lot of people don't go into that and I think that is a big mistake. To me, that is a big part of martial arts.
 

MJS

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Black Bear-- Excellent post!!:asian: :asian:

Mike
 

arnisador

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From what you list, JKD and Thai Boxing seem like obvious choices if your interest is self-defense. The latter can be rather demanding.

As others have said, though, it depends on the school. I don't agree that there are no bad arts--look at some of the ones you can buy rank in through Black Belt Magazine--but overwhelmingly it's the instructor and how he/she trains the art that matters.
 
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Black Bear

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arnisador:
I guess it depends where you draw your boundaries around arts. When folks say there are no categorically bad arts, I guess they're thinking of the one-word descriptor. Like we might make some snide remark about "all those karate guys *snicker*" but those kyokushinkai guys definitely know what they're doing, and so do some others. Or like one time when I screened a "combat hapkido" tape and just thought it was completely idiotic--but then Alain Burrese also does "combat hapkido" and it's very good, a totally different thing.

So in that sense of the expression, I don't think there are very many bad arts.
 
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markulous

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I agree that there are not that many bad arts. I mean they were created for a reason. But like a couple people said there are a lot of bad instructors. For instance(I posted this on another thread) there is www.worldkungfu.com . This guy doesn't know what the heck he is doing. To me their demo is idiotic.

As a human being and as a martial artist, you just have to kind of sift through all of the trash out there and take all of the good stuff you can find. Some instructors offer A LOT less trash than others, you just have to find them. Of course, just because it's trash to you doesn't mean its trash to them...Ok. I am done. :asian:
 

drunken mistress

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I started MA late at 48. I織ve found no problem keeping up with theyoung on SHukokai and later Freestyle Karate. (I織m 49 now.) I tried Tae Kwon Do and hopt to do more when classes start here. I think at the end of the day you have to do trial classes and see if you like the teachers as well as the styles. If you織re fit you can probably do almost any style. Best to go with a teacher who has a good attitude.
 
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